As we continue to look at how Ray Farmer’s promotion changes the off-season, we’ll now tackle what this does for possible free agency signings. This is clearly an early look but we love this stuff, so might as well take a way too early with almost zero knowledge on the situation look. It’s hard to get a reading on Farmer yet. He’s never really had control over a team, he was an assistant GM last season so it’s hard to figure out what decisions he was in on and which ones he was opposed to. Same with his tenures as a scout with the Atlanta Falcons and Director of Player Personnel at the Kansas City Chiefs. Here’s a look on how things shake out.
QB- The only expected person from last year is everyone’s darling, Brian Hoyer. With his early season injury it’s difficult to determine how much stock to put into Hoyer’s early season success making this is an important but difficult decision in the draft. I expect the Browns to go early after a quarterback with its first pick with a veteran picked up in free agency. Even if they decide to wait till the later rounds to grab a Quarterback, it’ll be Hoyer getting the immediate start. Don’t see the Browns going after Michael Vick (and not sure he’d be an indication of a starting QB at this point anyways, though how fun would it be to have Mike Vick in the Dawg Pound, the endless creative signs would totally be worth it). If Farmer’s promotion is indication of anything it might be of a former Chief QB coming over like Matt Cassell. Personally I think we’ll end up with someone like Rex Grossman, a 3rd stringer who won’t be itching to play, will mentor the young ones and who has experience on a winning team. (Anyone else remember up till just now that Rex Grossman was a Super Bowl starting QB?)
RB- Farmer was part of the Chiefs when it seemed they were able to get non-stop capable runners between Larry Johnson (not this Larry Johnson), Priest Holmes and Jamaal Charles. He was also there when Larry Johnson held out for top dollar only for the crumbling of his career to start the following season to be replaced by 3rd round pick Jamaal Charles. Throw in the fact that Kyle Shanahan has used lower round picks and made them into stars, I don’t see the Browns spending big money in free agency on someone like Ben Tate, Knowshon Moreno, Darren McFadden, Maurice Jones-Drew or cap casualty candidate Chris Johnson. I am intrigued by the possibility of Donald Brown. He showed he was the better candidate in the Colts rushing tandem and could be had for cheap. Though Peyton Hillis and Jackie Battle might end up on the Browns screen thanks to a history with Farmer.
WR-The Browns already have a star here in Josh Gordon. Greg Little and Travis Benjamin help round out the bottom starters but Gordon needs a #2. This is where I think it might make sense for the Browns to go after a #2 receiver. In free agency there are two WRs that I think would be a great fit in the Browns. Anquan Boldin and Hakeem Nicks. Like Dwayne Bowe, who Farmer had and was part of the draft when the Chiefs grabbed him, Boldin and Nicks are bigger WRs who are solid route runners. Boldin and Nicks have both played for Super Bowl winning teams and have both been the #2 WR before. I think they’ll bring knowledge and valuable veteran leadership to a group that needs it most. The last thing you want to do is add more fireworks to the fire, which could happen grabbing a rookie WR. Bringing in one of these two should help shore up the #2 WR while also helping this group achieve more professionalism. I prefer Nicks but he’ll come more than likely at a higher cost than Boldin (considering he’s 7 years younger). Either one will contribute in many ways.
TE-I don’t think there is going to be much change here. Jordan Cameron is a star and they seem to like Gary Barnidge. Maybe someone like Fred Davis, from Shanahan’s Washington days, but more than likely this will be a low level or no signing.
Offensive Line- This could be interesting. The Browns don’t seem to be set on Mitchell Schwartz at RT, but seem open to the idea of sliding him into the guard position and grabbing a new RT. Also neither one of the guards is exactly locked down at this point. Jon Asamoah from the Chiefs might make sense if Farmer wants to bring some Chiefs over. He’s a young guard who was starting until an injury took him out and replacement Geoff Schwartz came in and took over. The Browns could also look at Zane Beadles (27 years old out of Denver) and Richie Incognito (30-Miami) to help bolster their guard play in a possible new zone blocking look (something Shanahan’s been a part of everywhere he’s been and something his father made a career out of). Beadles is the safer choice with Incognito having a tainted reputation after this season. The other possible interest might be in Eric Winston who can play RT to move Schwartz inside (formerly of the Chiefs). Another possibility might be the influence of Andy Moeller, newest offensive line coach. He’s coming over from the Baltimore Ravens where two T’s are potential free agents in Eugene Monroe and the Blind Side himself, Michael Oher (though last season it looked like he could use some more Bullock sass…hell we all can. There isn’t a thing in this world I wouldn’t be better at if I didn’t have Sandra Bullock riding me). Interesting situation to see play out is whether or not the zone blocking scheme will be used. It wasn’t in Baltimore but Moeller was the offensive line coach on the Michigan staff that used it under Rich Rodriquez. So he has implemented it before. If I had to guess I would say the choice would be Beadles and possibly Oher or Winston at RT, though I wouldn’t rule out Asamoah. (This is assuming Alex Mack resigns, if not this could open up a whole can of worms.)